A Question from a Pik-y Reader
Had this question come through on the Natural Selection Facebook Page:
“Ive had locks for years! Started in 97 cut them in 03 grew them back and cut them again in 10. Now Im ready to just let my hair grow and experiment with different styles. Natural Styles of course:) I am in need of a good pick. I been searching the internet for the short and long fan pick with the black fist AND the peace sign in the middle. Do they exist anymore?” -Christina A.
Thanks for writing in, Christina. From your description I set out on an internet safari looking for your vintage style pick. Along the way I found out some interesting things about the history of the pik and its African roots. Contrary to popular belief, piks are not a result of the 70′s black power movement. Pik-style combs (as opposed to horizontally held combs with handles) originated in Africa specifically for the use on African hair. These original piks were made of wood and were highly ornamental, displaying a reverence for craft and personal care. The wide spaces between the teeth allowed for ease of detangling highly textured hair. The African comb also began to have spiritual/familial/religious significance and many combs were adorned with carved figurines and symbols.
Wooden comb from the Ivory Coast
Another comb from the Ivory Coast
- A Ceramic Comb
During slavery, slave masters took these beautiful piks away from their slaves as a way to not only remove all traces of African origin and symbology, but also the desire to care for ones personal appearance. The pik did not make a popular resurgence in the United States until the 1970′s when the afro hair style returned to fashion and the pik was used to, well, “pik-out” (enlarge) the afro.
At the center of this movement, Miss Christina, was the afro pik that you are looking for- with the fist (symbolizing black power) and the peace sign. Despite these piks hitting their most popular point 40 years ago, you’re in luck because they STILL make them today! And they are as easy to get as making a quick trip to Amazon. You can really get anything on Amazon.
They have a couple of styles, the Fan Fist Pik that you were looking for.
As well as the regular straight pik (with peace sign and fist as well).
Today the pik is also a popular image making its appearance on clothing and jewelery. I love these earrings by Rachel Stewart and the t-shirt by Frolab. Very cool.
Oh and as for the pik vs. pick spelling, I’ve seen it many places and in both formats. I was following the model of how the sought after combs were actually spelled by the manufacturer and made it consistent. Do whichever makes you happy, I have yet to find conclusive evidence that one or the other is correct.
As always, Natural Selection encourages healthy hair practices. When using any sort of comb device, whether its a fist pik or a wooden comb or a Ouidad comb, be sure to do it when its well moisturized (preferably wet and loaded with conditioner) so as to minimize breakage. Enjoy the pik, and send us a picture if/when you get it!